Phyllis Jane (nee Manthe) Phillips, 91, formerly of Elkhart, IN, passed away peacefully of natural causes in Arlington, VA, on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 12:35 am, with her family at her side. She was born Dec. 23, 1928, in Elkhart, to the late Edward Manthe and Hazel (Cripe) Manthe. Phyllis was married for 25 years to Joseph Mitten Phillips Sr., who predeceased her in 1974. A beloved daughter, Diana Lee Phillips, died in 2017. She is survived by another daughter, Christina Sue Allison of Edwards, MO; son Joseph Mitten Phillips Jr. (Robert Safro) of Washington, DC; grandson Aaron (Renee) Phillips of Bellevue, NE; great-granddaughter Sage Phillips and great-grandson Kole Phillips of Bellevue, NE; and niece Pamela (Keith) Miller of Albuquerque, NM. The family also would like to acknowledge many other caring family, friends and neighbors: Stacey and Daryle Donahue, Brady Hodge, Nancy Caslick, Jim Bollero, Bill Allison, Bill Kersten, Paula Todd, Marge Shupert, Diane Jones, Deb Hogan, Nancy and Stan Warnick, the extended Safro family and many others. Phyllis was a controller for Needlecraft, Inc., in Elkhart for more than 30 years, helping guide the company through a successful buyout as she was retiring at age 80. She was a graduate of Elkhart High School and a student at Indiana University in South Bend, where she studied business, geology and art. Phyllis and her husband instilled a love of books and travel in their children. In her mid-forties, she lost her devoted husband and other close family members within months of each other. Phyllis persevered with grace and determination, showing her children how education, hard work and empathy were key to a happy life. Phyllis became an avid golfer and ace bridge player, as well as a voracious reader and devoted mentor to family and friends. She was a long-time chaperone in school-related activities for her children and their friends—many of whom affectionately called her “Mom” long after they became adults. Her compassion, her joy of life and her innate optimism—to “find one bright spot every day, no matter what”—remain touchstones for her family and friends. Phyllis’ life will be celebrated at Stemm Lawson Peterson Funeral Home, 1531 Cobblestone Blvd., Elkhart, at noon on Friday, February 21, 2020, with visitation starting two hours prior. Burial will immediately follow the service at Violett Cemetery in Goshen. Phyllis was, to say the least, an extremely kind and generous woman. In lieu of flowers, please think of her the next time you “pay it forward” for someone in need. Donations may be given to the National Kidney Foundation, www.kidney.org/support, 800.622.9010, 30 East 33rd Street, New York, NY 10016. Online condolences may reach the family at www.stemmlawsonpeterson.com.
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